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Multi-Purposing: How to Make Your Articles Work Extra Hard

Searchable archives make re-purposing much easier.Long, long ago, freelance writers used to write an article for publication, get paid, and file away the article and move on to the next topic. One article = one use. That’s not bad if the paycheck for each article was great, but this is the real world, so skimpy pay happens too.

What if every article you wrote really earned its keep? What if you could sell virtually the same article over and over, dissect it into brief quotes for tweets, compile it with others on the same topic as a book or e-book, or record it as a podcast? You can, you know.

Just be sure that you sell only one-time rights to any publisher, and keep everything you write well organized in a searchable archive. Technology has now made it possible to store every article, book, blog post, speech and essay you’ve ever written in an easily accessible, keyword searchable archive. If you store it the cloud (online), you’ll be able to access your documents from anywhere at anytime, which is quite reassuring when you consider that personal computers occasionally crash, and if possible, will do so right before you remember to back up your files.

One of the easiest ways to begin multi-purposing or repurposing, as some call it, is to use Google Docs, Spreadsheets, and Presentations to manage your archive. Sign up for a free Gmail account and you’ll immediately have access to as much online storage as you’re ever likely to need. The downside to using online storage is that your network may go down at some point, leaving you temporarily without access to your documents. I’d rather deal with that problem, though, than a permanently crashed hard drive.

Here’s how to keep an organized archive

  1. Give each article an informative filename that contains the article title or topic, an abbreviation of the first place published, plus the day and year of first publication: e.g. “multi-purposing-dwm-5-11”
  2. Keep a spreadsheet of all the articles you’ve written, with notes on where and when they’ve been used, and the rights that have been granted.
  3. If you tweak an article to more closely fit it to a particular publication, save it with a new name that includes the new place and date of publication.
  4. Every time you use an article, make a note on your master copy of where, when, and what part was used: e.g. “Twitter- 5-10-15- one tip per day” or “Included in MSH book-2011”
  5. Add keywords to each article file so that you can easily find it in a search. Google Docs allows you to do this from the right sidebar, but if you’re using another service you can simply type the keywords at the bottom of the document.

Keeping your articles in an organized archive can help you make the most of each word you write. Whether you’re a full-time freelancer or an aspiring entrepreneurial writer, you’ll find that a well-stocked article archive is like money in the bank. Enjoy!

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